tv Today in Washington CSPAN January 26, 2010 6:00am-9:00am EST
sanctions and containment. from 1991 onwards we have a policy of containment beyond sanctions, in number of different elements, trade sanctions were part of that which you were talking about earlier. another part of it was the un embargo on the export of defense material to iraq, no-fly zones are another part, and the stationing of coalition forces including british forces in neighboring countries. it was all part of this policy of containment. by 2001, what had that achieved? was it the same? >> yes. it had certainly stopped him from acquiring material. he had an ambition earlier to have nuclear weapons.
we were pretty confident that his ambitions had been constrained. they certainly weren't eliminated. there were many aspects of things he was engaged upon that were contrary to the sanctions. he was trying to extend the range of one of his existing missiles. he was trying to develop long-range missiles. inspectors found casings and engines that were larger than was allowed under the rules. no doubt that his agents trying to acquire material. he was constantly pushing and breaching the rules. he wasn't completely successful. it wasn't a complete failure
either. there were areas in which he was able to get around the rules. but for that policy he would have done a lot more and become a lot more dangerous. >> if you say he still had ambitions, shea was trying to. >> the issues i described it -- [talking over each other] >> was it the case in 2001 that he wasn't actually a serious threat to the region? to the countries around him? >> he was a potential threat and that is what i think change in the united states after 9/11. instead of simply dealing with a
threat today i think the americans became much more sensitive about potential risks because they had not seen 9/11 coming. we knew very little about afghanistan. we had very little information about afghanistan and out of apparently know where an attack on the most powerful country in the world land straight away the american administration, under pressure from the politicians i met in congress, they were not prepared to tolerate -- [talking over each other] >> whether that was from iraq or >> many other witnesses have talked about the shock effect of 9/11. this change american tolerance of risk. the question i am asking is about the actuality of the risk. weather in actuality he had been contained in a way that he
wasn't able seriously to threaten his neighbors. >> the intelligence evidence was that he retained stocks of chemical and indeed biological weapons. and clearly had been prepared to use them against iran and against his own people. there was little doubt that having gone from that capability was capable of using it. >> the program had been frozen. >> because of the absence of this material. in the sense that his efforts to develop larger and longer range missiles were part of an ambition to deliver a nuclear weapon if he could secure his material. >> having the americans on one
side we heard from others yesterday. there were differing views in the british government about the extent to witch containment was a sustainable policy, could be continued particularly if the sanctions were made, more targeted in a way that dealt with the political problem, political downside, military weapons and firmer actions taken to prevent invasion of sanctions and smuggling. where did you lie on this debate? >> i am not sure i was particularly engaged. i can recall discussions about smarter sanctions. that is the expression that was used. as far as i was concerned, in answer to previous questions it
seemed to me that politically we were not succeeding without policy. i was increasingly concerned about the risk to raf pilots patrolling the no-fly zones because we were not always able to respond in the way that was necessary to make those patrols as safe as they needed to be. my sense was this policy was breaking down. containment was not delivering the political results you say it required. it was not something that could go on indefinitely. >> even if it was reinforced. >> i was not much involved in those discussions. the discussions were more taking place in the front office. >> your department was responsible for a lot of the containment.
shouldn't you have been involved in the discussions. >> i don't know what the dates were for that. i can recall there were discussions about improving sanctions and about making them smarter and -- i don't recall any conclusions from those discussions. >> you talked about the ongoing series of meetings with the prime minister about iraq. presumably in those meetings one of the minister's most involved in iraq policy must have been taking a position on the strategy. on whether we should look to sustain containment. we were still pursuing containment in the united nations. or whether we needed to go in a completely different direction. >> my concerns, the base in q 8,
i don't remember its name, i have been their biggest lie have been briefed in detail on the kinds of operations they were conducting. there was considerable concern about the risk to that corporation. i was much less persuaded than i had been that this policy could continue. the real downside was every time we attack the missile in iraq we were accused of attacking iraq and causing civilian casualties. >> what did the prime minister tell you about his discussion with president bush? >> he didn't tell me anything
directly. one of the artificial sense of what was happening, much about the occupation was about what was happening in afghanistan. our office was concerned about the middle east peace process. i took a continued interest in that. the sense that this was all about iraq in my recollection was wrong. [talking over each other] >> this inquiry is about iraq but we have to understand the context. to what extent, more generally, there read different records. one has been declassified which is one paragraph send overseas, we have heard from others.
to what extent were you privy to the prime minister's exchanges with president bush orally and in writing in the course of 2002 about iran? >> almost impossible question to answer. i saw the exchanges you had with alastair campbell. i am reconstructing to some extent. probably two sorts of letters that i might describe as a round robin letter where the prime minister would set out a number of concerns on different departments who differed on occasion. and possibly other issues that i would certainly have seen. i was used to seeing. that would be a statement of the
british government's position on a range of issues which would go to the white house. my impression from your exchanges is there were probably other more private communications taking place. i am reconstructing because i did not know. i did not see those private communications. the prime minister was a great writer and would not surprise me at all if there were private notes he would send to the president or he would have had private conversations with the president that i would not >> if he was writing notes that could be read by the recipient, the commission in britain, wouldn't you have expected as defense secretary to have been consulted? >> i would have been. that is why i don't believe he
was ever unconditionally committing us to anything. right up until the vote in the house of commons, the attitude towards the use of military force was always conditional on either securing the un security council resolution in november. the prime minister set out at the outset a set of conditions about the middle east peace process, communicating our concern about iraq and a range of conditions. i never assumed that we were in a position of unconditionally resorting to military action right up until the vote in the
house of commons. as you are probably aware i had a conversation with donald rumsfeld that day indicating to him that if the vote went the wrong way we would not take action and we could not take action. even at that late stage in my own mind we had not unconditionally committed ourselves to using military force. >> campbell described the tenor of this correspondence from his evidence. we share the analysis, we share the concern, we absolutely with you in making sure saddam hussein is faced up to his obligations and that iraq is disarmed. if that can't be done diplomatically and has to be done militarily britain will be there. that is his combination of what the correspondents were saying. were you aware that this was the
general tenor of the way the prime minister was putting -- >> that is consistent with what face up to his obligations is conditional. the conditions were his obligations to the united nations and various security council resolution that had been passed. >> you were aware that this was the nature of the exchange? >> i wasn't aware of that specific exchange. what i was aware of was the general tenor of our position. our position was that we wanted to go through a political, diplomatic process to disarm saddam hussein in the iraqi regime that he lead. if ultimately that required the use of force we were prepared to contemplate that but it was very much contingent upon going
through those processes first. >> these conditions, accepting that unless there dissatisfied, nonetheless, the british view of the coalition of what it would take to execute a successful strategy towards iraq. >> that we couldn't simply go to a military response without the kind of discussion the prime minister described with relation to the middle east peace process. it was a very important issue without developing understanding the united kingdom and other countries. those conditions were a necessary part of the process. i emphasize we wanted those military processes to be
successful. >> if i could turn to the question of military planning and the influence we gained, we were talking about that earlier. we heard from among others, christopher mail, to washington in early summer of 2002 around may that the british were offering a land contribution. a division, a big package. that was the impression that had lodged itself in the hearts of the american administration. this was long before the prime minister had taken any such decision. were you aware that this had happened? >> i don't think so, know. my recollection of those events
is there was a sense in which we were disappointed after crawford that we hadn't received a request from the united states to send someone to tampa and i don't know how that was resolved. it wasn't until the end of june or july that we actually sent general pig and his team, it was a long period of wondering what was going on and wondering why we weren't being involved. >> the americans saw that we were coming in in a big way. would that have undermined to a degree your ability to exercise influence over the process in a way you wanted to do?
>> it logically follows yes. that was not -- i answered in a different way already. a wasn't persuaded at that stage that it was possible to offer an armored division in the time scale that was required. even later in the process, at one point in october, pretty much assumed the americans had discounted the process for precisely that contribution and were planning without our involvement because we had not taken the decisions that were required in the time scale that was at that stage required. >> general john reese at the end last week told us we had a close relationship with general tommy francs and throughout this, general franks was assuming he would be there.
john said he couldn't conceive that america's closest ally wouldn't go into iraq if they weren't -- describe how he had couldn't actually say to him is alright. we will be there. throughout this process i was saying to him this is what we could do. but i can't guarantee we are. if you are saying this, what we could do, callie franks could come to the assumption that this is whattommy franks could come to the assumption that this is what we're going to do. >> i can say that when general piggert -- whatever he said or did the bridge the whatever discussions took place were always subjected to a very clear
political caveat that we had made no decision whatsoever about our involvement and that was absolutely clear. your quotation rather confirmed that. those engaged knew full well that this was preparation and it was what might have to happen if a certain set of conditions followed but those conditions were paramount. and the paramount instruction was we had not taken any political decision whatsoever to be involved. >> another at the center in september of 2002, a conference of the military, we were represented -- you had meetings before hand and you and the prime minister's instructions were we offered the second package but not the third
word came back that we have also discussed in terms of that conference the plant option and that came back to your office. can you remember your reactions when you heard your instructions appeared to have been interpreted in a rather liberal way? >> it is not particularly surprising that military people would talk about what the united kingdom could conceivably do. in the summer there was a further complication in that there was likely a fire strike. we were required to make available a significant number of members of the armed forces to deal with that but that was another complication.
given what we could do we could translate that into any kind of reality. to reflect upon the possibilities--those are translated -- in my conversations with the united states with donald rumsfeld -- in october there was a report that the americans were continuing planning on the assumption that we wouldn't do the third option and i referred already to the conversation i had with donald rumsfeld in the house of commons when he went from that conversation to a press conference in which he said the british might not be there and if they weren't the u.s. could handle it. i am not sure i agree with this
idea that there was some inherent assumption all the way through that we would take military action. >> lloyd boisterous inhibited his evidence with the policies that we were going through the planning but not committed to the committee. he went on to say don't believe it. >> i am not in any way contradicting what his experience was dealing with the american military in the united states and in the united kingdom. ultimately these decisions are taken by political leaders. the president and the prime minister and in the case of the united kingdom in this particular case by a decision of the house of commons. >> you were in close touch from time to time with your exact opposite, donald rumsfeld, at the forward edge of the u.s.
option. did he understand the political constraints and conventions of these? >> very much so. he is a keen student of british politics and the house of commons and from time to time would surprise me by the fact that he had been watching events in the house of commons. sometimes more assiduously than i had been and would make reference to what happened in the debate that retaking place. he was in no doubt of the constraints that we were under politically. i am not saying he shared our view of the un process or the other conditions but he well understood that once the prime minister said there would be a vote in the house of commons it would be decisive. >> that wouldn't surprise me.
daily or weekly basis but it was very regular. we met frequently. he was not a man to have idle conversations. he was talking about politics or the world or what was happening in the pentagon. the conversations, the meetings were extremely businesslike and very focused. he did what he had to do and moved on. we are aware that jack stahl had a different relationship with colin powell where it they talked about things on a regular basis, far more detail and they were friends in a way that meant their relationship could be different from mine. >> you were in the course of putting your biggest military
tips on to donald rumsfeld's table. did you feel this was possible for you to exercise some influence over the way he was approaching the iraq conflict? >> this was a two way process. there were a number of occasions where i said the mission of the united kingdom and government and we had some lively exchanges on occasion. >> in favor of the big contribution, this would give influence with the americans. can you point to areas in which you recall it gave influence in which we were able to change things in the way we wanted them changed? >> it didn't happen in this end. i am confident we persuaded them about the option of going through turkey. i am fairly confident in a
number of areas of detailed planning, were extremely influential in the shaping and nature of the campaign, we were very clear about the requirement for improving the aftermath planning. >> the climate for improving the aftermath climate? the ultimate planning connoted a disaster, didn't it? >> it was not a disaster. it did not go as well as we wanted. u.s. for example -- i took a paper to the pentagon in february of 2003 setting out our concerns about what might happen after the invasion. i was given insurances that that was to be acted upon.
>> was described in the papers which was the pentagon's first attempts at execution as i shambles. had they paid any attention to our concerns? other concerns -- >> there is a distinction to be drawn between the role in baghdad and the north and what was happening in the south. as i understand the evidence we have been given so far that was focused on what was going on around baghdad which was the center of gravity for iraq and the key city that had to be resolved. in the south the picture was significantly different not least because of the population. >> we will come back to that later on. perhaps i can ask a few other questions about the way the decision to actually take the
package to the largest of the options was taken. that was a decision which had to be taken in september but after that in october you recommended to the prime minister that we should go for the option of iii. what for you were the critical factors in making that recommendation? >> what happened that i alluded to already, there was growing concern. given the timescale for american action which was essentially january at this point, we really had to make a decision because we would not have had time to prepare those options. the problem was for an office that was heavily in gauge in
negotiating a un security council resolution, they did not want any overt military preparation to affect their diplomatic efforts. in a sense by october, i mentioned it already i was really saying to the prime minister if you are going to do this, we had this discussion on several occasions, you have got to decide because at the moment my understanding by the middle of october was the americans were assuming we wouldn't be there. that we would be there with a third option and we wouldn't be there on the land and that planning was moving ahead on that basis and as the weeks went by, meeting in january time scale was increasingly impossible.
that we would operate right across southern provinces. i think one of the factors i recall in some of the conversations -- perhaps with the foreign office but certainly in the m.o.d. as well was that had we have not gone in at that stage as part of the military invasion of iraq, we would nevertheless have been expected to be involved afterwards. so let us assume we didn't do option 3, nevertheless, quite
soon afterwards, the assumption was that there would be a further u.n. security council resolution. that that would require or encourage member states to send troops to iraq for peacekeeping. and as a member of the security council, we would be expected to play our part. so there was a sense -- and i recall this from some of the military that it was better to be there at the beginning, to establish ourselves, to know what the land was like rather than going in later for a peacekeeping operation. without having that prior experience and information. >> so that was part of the arguments. but actually it turned out that we ended up doing both. the campaign and staying on six years afterwards? >> yes. but not in the numbers that we might otherwise have had to send. that was part of the consideration. we drew down significantly from
the 46,000 that we sent as part of the invasion. to i think initially 15 to 16 and then down to 10. so there was a pretty rapid reduction in our numbers. and that again was part of the consideration that we had to send more later if they had been involved in a purely peacekeeping roll. >> what about other arguments. if i don't misquote him, i think jonathan powell said that it was a strong argument that it was for his morale, his respect. i'm not using his exact words here. was that an argument that was being put to you through the prime minister? >> i think suspend who spent as long in the m.o.d. was well aware of the tremendous quality of our armed forces and their
desire to be used and to participate. there was a sense particularly amongst the army that they did not want to be left out. but i don't think -- i wouldn't -- i wouldn't have regarded that as being a substantial argument as something that you put on the table and say it was a major factor in the decision-making. >> it was a strong push in the army? >> they knew that -- and that's probably been true in a more recent conflicts particularly in afghanistan. they knew that the kind of capabilities that we had in the royal air force and the royal navy were relatively easily available. and certainly it was a sense that they wanted to play that part. but as i say, i don't regard that as being a major factor in the actual decision-making. it made it easier. they weren't saying, we can't do this. under no circumstances will we
go. they're saying if necessary we can play our part in this particular way. >> was there any sense that the thing the americans needed is if the thing was going to be done really well? there was things that we could provide to this operation has perhaps we thought we were better at doing than the americans, some aspects? >> i recall at one stage -- this was never -- as i said earlier, this is never a fixed package. there were always changes. at one stage i think the americans were planning in the south a substitute -- a relatively heavy brigade with a rather lighter one. and i think we had some reservations about the extent to which that was sufficiently capable of doing their job in the south. so sending an armored division of some of our very best people
certainly meant that we felt confident that the job would be done and be done well. but bear in mind we were -- it's an expression, relief in place. the task of the armored division was to follow in behind american forces who were pushing rapidly ahead towards baghdad. that particular responsibility was -- it wasn't as if we were the ones pushing on to baghdad. >> one last question on this subject then i think we're going to take a short break. were there people in your department or in whitehall arguing against the idea of sending the big package suggesting that if we sent a package to, that would be a pretty significant contribution with a lot of ships, a lot of aircraft, some other bits, special forces perhaps? >> i think it was recognized ultimately that was a political
judgment for the prime minister in terms of the wider picture of the kinds of things that we had been discussing in terms of influence. i think the big concerns that i faced particularly by the time the summer had passed was whether we could manage. we got people in afghanistan. we've got a potentially big commitment to operation fresco to deal with a five-strike and whether sending this number of troops to iraq and then being able to replace them thereafter -- whether we could actually cope with that. so there were some proper reservations expressed about whether the ministry of defense could manage all of that simultaneously. >> so those questions about whether we were stretched or not and there was a political judgment whether package two was
a sufficiently respectable of number and we needed package three and that was a political decision for the prime minister? >> yes. but on the basis of military advice as to whether or not it was doable, the prime minister would only take that decision as i would have taken corresponding decision on the basis of whether it was practical. not only for us to deliver -- i think it's important to emphasize not only for us to deliver the number of troops required in the early stages and however long the fighting stages would last but also to recognize that once we were there, there was going to be a continuing obligation. although qualified by the point that i made to you just now. that continuing obligation was likely to arise in any event as a result of whatever u.n. resolution was passed in the aftermath. >> thank you. >> thank you. well, let's take st. >> thank you.
>> sir john, one other thing that i kept referring to without being able to put my finger on the date was a letter in october. and i've been able to check. it was on the 29th of october that in a sense my office wrote to david manning saying that u.s. military planning was continuing increasingly assuming that there would be no u.k. land contribution. >> right. thank you for that. that's helpful. well, let's resume where we left off. sir lawrence? >> thanks. well, just following on from that, we've talked about these auctions and effectively the two in play were the number two and number three.
>> number one was assumed. >> number one was assumed that we would not actually go out of our way to make it hard for them to conduct the operations. number two was a significant air and maritime and number three was a division. and you've given us some indications of the pressures, considerations that argued for a division. how were the different options evaluated because you've also indicated that they had different political implications as well as military implications. what was the actual process by which you assess which of these we'd like to go for? >> well, i think in terms of what actually was achievable. i think it was assumed that we would want to be helpful to the united states in the situation. and, therefore, how would we go about offering as much as was
consistent with all of the other pressures that we faced. >> was there a paper at any point which went through the political military, financial, whatever advantages -- >> i think the letter that i just referred to sir john on the 29th of october does indicate some of those points. not at least the -- it was written by my private secretary but it's obviously a letter from my office to the prime minister. >> just out of interest there, by and large your letters came from office to office rather than sort of you writing directly to the prime minister. >> it seemed to vary. i never quite understood why sometimes it was done in different ways. i'm sure there's some civil
service convention for this. i think it tended to be the case that i would write my own personal views directly to the prime minister if i was writing on behalf of the department. it was more likely to come through my private office. >> so basically the different options are being set out as -- saying it's time for decision as late as october -- >> 29th. >> which is quite well on. and worth recalling lord tomball's perception. >> again from the question from sir roderic. while package three is significantly more expensive than package two making it available could significantly reduce our vulnerability to u.s. request -- >> sorry sorry. >> i'm speaking -- it is also worth noting while package three is significantly more expensive
in itself than package two, making it available could significantly reduce our vulnerability to u.s. requests to provide a substantial and costly contribution it off post-conflict stabilization operations. so that was clearly in my mind as part of the decision-making process. >> now, again, just to clarify on this point because you seem to be suggesting before the break that what that implied was not that we wouldn't be involved in post-conflict stabilization but that our forces would be better prepared because they would know the terrain, the people would be climatized. what you've just said implies that -- to use these words that are often discussed, we'd rather be there making the meal than dealing with the washing up.
our forces wanted to be part of the main action and the post-conflict was seen as something secondary to that. >> i think there's also an assumption, which i would share, that british forces are pretty good at making the adjustment to war-fighting to stabilization and to peacekeeping and nation-building. the three-bloc war i think we were pretty good at. and i think there was a sense in which we were confidence that we could -- we would do a very good job if we made that kind of transition. that it would be more difficult. but they were still doing their job if they simply came in for the peacekeeping part. >> so just to clarify this point, you're not assuming that these were alternatives that you either did the -- my analogy the
cooking or you did the washing up. you could do both. >> we could do both. implicit was the assumption is if we did the washing, that we would have to do that on a larger scale. than had we'd been involved in the war fighting stage. >> but that would require a presumption that there would be other countries prepared to contribute to what could be a pretty challenging task. there could be no guarantees on that. >> no. what was the position of number ten on these alternatives between two and three? >> my sense was that generally speaking the prime minister wanted us to be involved to the maximum extent that was possible.
that he would accept the advice from the military and from me as to what was practically achievable. the prime minister was, generally speaking, anxious to do what the united kingdom could to help. >> but as you've described, over september, there had been concerns about the competing demand of operation, fresco and also that the americans might just go before there was any way that we could be ready. so was it the case that the prime minister of of was prepared to describe to the americans option two as a significant contribution that we do this at camp david? >> i think he would have -- he would have accepted -- had it been the case that because of the american time scale, or
because of other factors in deploying our forces we could not have done option three, he would have accepted that. it's not i was on huge pressure from downing street from option three. it's what they wanted, if it could be done. >> so again it's quite as important point in just establishing what the options were. it was perfectly reasonable to imagine they had been quite involved in the american operation. but not to the extent that was eventually the case. not with the division, and that would have been considered politically satisfactory? >> that is precisely the import of the letter that we've just been discussing. the letter says the americans are moving ahead. they're doing their planning. they're assuming we're not going to be involved on the land. >> but it's also the case that even after this letter, there still wasn't a final decision taken on --
>> the decision was taken around the 31st so it was quite sooner. >> can i just move to the -- something you also mentioned before the break. you referred to operations in the south as being discussed at this time. i was under the impression that we were still very much on the northern option at this time. is that correct? >> yes. >> so at what point were you aware that there may be difficulties in turkey giving us host nation support? >> i think that awareness grew towards the end of 2002. i think colin powell had been to turkey and reported back probably through jack straw the
turks were quite reluctant and specifically that although the americans might be able to secure some basing and some transient rights, they were pretty uncomfortable with us going through there. we may come on to this in a second but there's a particular history. >> we're going back. >> well, actually i think -- no, no. it's more of the post-first world war settlement -- i can explain that 'cause i went to turkey at the beginning of january. and i had a very rapid history lesson as a result. so we knew that this was going to be a problem. there were other -- i've always -- i've been to turkey quite a lot. there was a new government there and it was the new government was influenced by the military as previous governments were. and they struck me and i saw quite a lot of them during this period as being much more
democratic, much more like us in the way that they responded to issues. and, therefore, the prospect of large numbers of soldiers transiting their country, you know, i could see was going to cause them some problems towards the end of the year we were beginning that this might be a problem and, therefore, preparing contingency plans if we could not go in through the north but equally, i don't think that decision was actually taken until after my visit to turkey at the beginning of january. we only -- when i came back from turkey i basically formed the view that this wasn't going to happen. >> well, i think all the chronology may have been before you went. i think it was about the 3rd of january. i think it was a question of -- that we would still need to work with the turks even on their issue. >> i have seen the evidence that you've been given and i don't wholly agree with it if i may say so.
we were aware of the difficulties, colin powell in particular, alerted us to the attitude -- the likely attitude of turkey towards the british being in turkey. i went specifically to determine that, to decide whether or not we would get those transit rights and turkey never actually said no. they never actually said that we could not go through turkey. but i came back partly because of the newspapers there. i did a tv interview with the turkey equivalent, i guess, of news night or something like that. a long interview where all they were talking about was what happened in the 1920s and britain could not entirely be trusted. and i formed the view when i came home that we would never get an agreement from turkey. and that was the point at which we took the decision to then go
into the south and reorganize our effort. i mean, it's interesting that the united states didn't take that view for quite a long time. and the fourth division the fourth infantry division stayed in the eastern mediterranean until after the initial invasion for that reason because the americans assumed at some stage that turkey would agree, and they never did. >> i think we want to check the timing on that. however you look at this, it's quite late in the day to be shifting from one flank to another. all our planning up to this point goes on one bases. -- basis. and then all of a sudden you're now looking -- and having to explain to other members of the government that we're looking into completely different sort of option. >> it wasn't all of a sudden. as i said earlier, there were
already because of the information we previously received, we were beginning to think what might be involved. and i think we discussed with the americans that as an alternative. so it wasn't all of a sudden. but the actual decision didn't come until i came back from turkey. >> and one of the things we heard from jonathan powell was if we had gone through the north, that we might have gone as far as tikrit and taken the responsibility for that part of iraq. was that your understanding? >> well, i'm not sure we ever got quite sort of the aftermath planning as far as the north was concerned. i remember seeing from general piggot probably prior to him going to tampa and certainly, thereafter, the idea i think as i mentioned earlier, was to essentially -- to divide whatever force iraq had between the north and the south. because part of the practical problem of coming in through the
south was that unlike in the first gulf war, the kuwaiti border was relatively short with iraq. and since we couldn't cross the saudi border, it meant that a lot of soldiers were being funneled through a relatively narrow area. one of the concerns in particular was that made us highly vulnerable to weapons of mass destruction. to chemical weapons and biological weapons. there was a lot of concern about the focus of significant force coming through a relatively narrow area. the advantage of the northern option was that it divided iraq's forces but also gave us far more space in which to operate. >> and potentially if you went as far as tikrit a more benign area in which to operate after the war? >> yes, i mean, i accept it. i'm sure i'll be asked in due
course that our anticipation of the level of security was proved inaccurate. >> well, we'll talk about that later. just finally on this, there were major logistical issues about going to the south, which could really only be resolved with american help. is that fair? >> yes. it was always assumed that if we did go in through the south, that we would be dependent on significant logistical help from the u.s. but the change the south did not have -- clearly, it meant that things had to move slightly more quickly. but actually i don't recall that anyone had actually set off at that stage. when i came back from turkey i think about the 9th of january -- i mean, our royal didn't sail until the 16th of january. the air assault did not begin until the 23rd of january.
in a sense they didn't -- they weren't hanging around. there wasn't a delay. i can't even imagine the journey was particularly long. they went through the suez canal rather than having to make a long land transit across southern turkey. >> but operationally, there were going to be sorts of different missions? >> yes. but again, i don't recall any particular anxiety on the part of the military that this could not be done partly because of the contingency planning was already underway before my visit to turkey. partly because they're pretty good at making those kinds of adjustments. >> okay. thank you. we'd like to ask some questions now on the legal dimension. and noting that you yourself are a professional lawyer by background. indeed, a constitutional lawyer.
>> not an international lawyer. >> that's true. and can we start almost a self-contained thing in march 2002, your interview with jonathan dimbleby that the united kingdom would be required to use force without a specific united nations resolution that there was no legal necessity to go back to the u.n. this is 2002. and we understand and we now have permission to declassify the exchange of correspondence. the attorney general writes to you and speaks about his concern on that view and you respond. i wonder if you'd like to take us through that exchange. and to ask initially, were you relying on your own view of the law in what you said to jonathan dimbleby or was there any m.o.d. advice behind it? >> this is a very wide-ranging interview to the best of my
recollection. it was one of the last programs that had long interviews with politicians rather than 5 or 10-minute interviews. so he was able to ask me quite a lot of questions that pushed me quite hard on legality. to the best of my recollection, i haven't read the transcript although i know there's reference in this documentation to a transcript. i haven't read the transcript i should say since writing the letter. i was -- i was trying quite hard -- i'll put it this way. i was trying quite hard to answer any questions. and that's quite -- that's quite difficult when there are only two of you having a conversation. and as i recall -- and i think the documentation supports this i gave an example of self-defense as justification that would not require a further u.n. resolution.
what i was essentially saying was if iraq attacked british forces we would be entitled legally to respond. i'm not sure i went any further than that. i don't recall giving any kind of detail. the reason why peter goldsmith replied, i don't think of any more recently letter he sent. i don't think he was concerned about the nature of my legal observations. i think he was more concerned that i might be in effect boxing him in when he came to write his own opinion on the subject. so what he wanted to avoid out there that i had already pre-judged this matter legally. as i think i said in my letter was really about self-defense. self-defense wasn't a justification ultimately. and, therefore, i don't think i particularly trespassed on his area of proper legal responsibility.
>> so it shouldn't be understood, that is to say your dimbleby interview moment that was a settled thought-through address to the situation as it was in march of 2002 in the real world? >> i was trying pretty hard not to answer his questions in truth. >> okay. well, let's draw a line then under that and move on a whole year. we're now in 2003. the invasion and our participation in it is now imminent. and i think it is the 7th of march that the attorney general gives advice to -- among others yourself. the key people at the top of government. it's a finely balance of arguments. it indicates the risks. it touches incidentally, though for you very importantly, i guess, on the risk of prosecution of service personnel. >> and of politicians. >> and indeed politicians.
did that advice lead you to be any more concerned that in the various decision to commit british troops or was it something that you at least as a lawyer or a senior politician, you know, would expect in terms of advice in that situation? >> well, i read at the time his -- what has become called long legal advice. and it is a very -- it's quite complex, quite dense. it raises a number of quite difficult issues. but it was clear that his conclusion was that there was a legal justification for military action based on 1441 reviving the previous resolution 678. and he says so categorically. i have it in front of me.
i accept that a reasonable case can be made as resolution 1441 is capable without a further resolution and that was his conclusion. >> i'd like to ask you about difficulty or indeed just what is needed a finely argued extended review of the arguments and an on-balance conclusion in which the attorney general gave long version of advice and the military need for the one-liner. michael voiced that signal that he would need a one-line signoff certificate. >> we all did. we would have been in precisely the same legal position as the military if we had taken unlawful action. >> and so after the attorney's advice on the 7th, there's a
meeting on the 11th of march where he would need to have a short line, short paragraph in his direct -- operational directive to the armed forces. and i think the cabinet secretary would say the same regarding civil servants. >> yep. >> and he received that assurance in a letter from the attorney's office from your legal advisor's office in the m.o.d., 14th of march and can i ask, did you and he have any discussions -- >> who's the he? >> michael boyce. did you sit down together and say is this good enough? is this it? or is it already water over the dam. >> mike quite rightly had been pressing for some time for precisely this very clear legal judgment. and as had we all.
there's no doubt that had peter said this is unlawful, this is not a basis on which military action can be taken, there would have been no military action but in a sense you referred to my legal background, although it's very many years ago, i was perfectly used to seeing legal advice that argued the case but came to a conclusion. indeed, i recall being told off pretty roundly by my pupil master when i was a pupil barrister that my opinions were to academic and they argued the case too much. i've been an academic lawyer before. he said the client wants an answer. and in a sense this was the answer. this was peter goldsmith's conclusions. and the fact as you say it was finely argued didn't come as any great surprise. you wouldn't need lawyers unless there were arguments. and he came to a view.
and it was that view that mike boyce, kevin and i were looking for. >> thank you. one other dimension to this, you had seen the long attorney general's advice of the 7th of march. you were yourself a lawyer by training and profession. as was some of your other cabinet colleagues including the foreign secretary, indeed, the prime minister but by no means all of them. and many of your cabinet colleagues had not seen it. didn't see it. and the discussion in cabinet was based on something much shorter. it wasn't the one-liner. it was a draft of a parliamentary answer. do you think now or did you think at the time that cabinet colleagues would have wished to be led into the detailed on the one hand and on the other considerations in the attorney's full advice? >> i'm not sure that it would be
appropriate for cabinet to have that kind of discussion because this time end, what you've been inviting people to do was to speculate on the legal judgment that the attorney general had reached. it's not the same as having a political discussion about options or policies. this is someone whose decision is that this was awful. and i don't think cabinet could look at this. this was not policy advice and this is not on the one hand and on the other hand we might take this course of action. what he was saying was that this was lawful in his judgment. and i can't see how we could have had a sensible discussion going behind that. >> one member of the cabinet, of course, claire short, did say she would like to have a full discussion of the legal arguments to and fro, which was not granted. and it didn't take place? >> i hope for the reason i just set out.
i don't see how you can have that kind of discussion. i mean, do you have a vote on whether the legal advice is accepted or not? i mean, it doesn't -- it doesn't lead anywhere. i can see as we did have a discussion about whether it is sensible in policy terms to commit british forces to take the action that we were taking. that's a different matter. but having a debate about a legal opinion doesn't strike me as being very sensible. >> i just wanted to mention -- i would like to move on to some other issues in a moment. it's a policy, political, operational risk which is implicit in the legal advice. is it not a proper question for the cabinet to judge? would they, therefore, have been there were risking lurking behind the legal advice? the risk of prosecution? >> i can see further on -- i saw this at the time that in order to justify the conclusion that
the attorney general came to, it was necessary for there to be -- i think he describes as a strong factual grounds. so there needs to be a necessary underpinning to support that. and -- >> which he sought from the prime minister? >> sorry? >> which he sought from the prime minister right at the last moment? >> right. certainly -- and we had those kinds of discussions. does the factual background support the action that we're taking? is there sufficient cooperation by saddam hussein and his regime in iraq? are they cooperating with them? what are the views of the inspectors and so on. so that kind of discussion was taking place. >> thank you. that was as it were the big legal question. but there is a great deal of legal surround to operational and military matters. and i'd like just to ask a few questions. first about the no-fly zones.
you've given us evidence today about the continuance of the is no fly zones as part of containment. what about the legal justification for their continuance? it seems clear that it was increasingly felt by initially the predecessor. that this was a precarious, an increasing precarious legal base because it had initially rested on humanitarian grounds? >> and that remained the chase i mean, there was not as far as i'm aware a specific u.n. security council resolution. this was based on the requirement to prevent -- i think the phrase was overwhelming humanitarian disaster. nevertheless, it did have an underpinning in a series of u.n. security council resolutions. i mentioned one already, 6, 7, 8. i think there were others.
>> one question that flows from the concerns of successful attorneys general about the precarious legal base as time went on for the operations in the no-fly zones was to -- >> i hate to quickly. -- quickly. quibble, the factual operation of the zones changed. the legal representation remained consistent. >> understood. and that's not quibble. successive attorneys general had to pay closer attention to it so tensions inevitable existed between military force of swiftness and operation and execution on the other and careful scrutiny on things like impact on civilians, et cetera.
did you regard that as a stable situation through the operations of the no-fly zones right up to march, 2003? >> i think we probably touched a little on this. the iraqis were becoming much more sophisticated. they were developing radar that could operate from outside the no-fly zone. and the direct from their missiles and inside the no-fly zone. there were legal issues that were making it more difficult to justify the action that we were taking, were we entitled under the matter of law, i think we were. but i accept there's a harder judgment to make to attack radar facilities based outside the no-fly zone even though we were controlling missiles inside the zone. equally, what if the iraqis did quite a lot of this.
they had these mobile launchers that slipped into the zone and slipped out again. how were we to determine whether they were legitimate targets or not. >> sorry to interrupt. i mean, i imagine you were looking at a lot of this stuff i take and it's very hard to assess collateral damage when you have a fast-moving missile launcher. >> i think 5 miles an hour is what the speed we were kind of talking about. they were mobile. and rightly. you're on to the right point which is that they were located in centers of population. there were serious questions about the potential for civilian casualties. and i suspect that there were civilian casualties. but nevertheless that was a judgment that had to be made in the light of the risk to raf and usaf personnel. >> yeah. thank you.
what i'd like to move on as the last segment on the legal surrounds to the whole business. is looking ahead initially to the campaign. i'm thinking of february, 2003, march, 2003, before it starts. we understand that you briefed the attorney general on the military objectives. and there are inevitably concerns for the british government, legal as well as policy and military, as we are going in a coalition. two countries somewhat different rules of damagement. -- engagement. >> and a different legal basis. >> yes. did you and/or the attorney identify particular concerns that you felt needed to be addressed in that immediate preinvasion time? >> the reason i mentioned the legal basis, our legal basis was always predicated on the fact that we were disarming iraq from its use of weapons of mass destruction.
and that meant that our actions had to be consistent with that legal base. now, that developed once iraq had not taken the opportunity of cooperating with the united states once it was clear that we were entitled as a matter of law to remove the regime in order to disarm iraq. but that conditionality had to follow. so the legal decisions were consistent with that in terms of targeting and that meeting that i had with the attorney general would be very much about how we went about the process of deciding appropriate targets. and that again was slightly different from some of the targeting that i'd done, for example, in relation to afghanistan. because the american campaign was different. >> yes. >> it was very much about creating an effect on the
frowned. -- ground. and making clear that our target with saddam hussein and his regime rather than -- if you'd like a more conventional military attack on the country as a whole. i know that distinction is clear but many of the targets -- the justification was that the targets were targets associated with saddam hussein and his regime. >> hence, shock and awe at least on baghdad. but we, of course, shared as coalition partner a degree of responsibility for whatever the americans did as well as what we would decide to do on our own? how much interchange would there either at political or indeed military level between ourselves and the united states forces on the matter of targeting limits, constraints, criteria. >> i think it's a pretty
integrated process because actually once we got to the air campaign and such, it was not because the modern sophisticated weapons. it was not always known before a plane took off necessarily what its target was going to be. and that has -- that has changed dramatically from the conventional bombing. so we had a list of targets. and again the difference probably is legally that i went through them. very often one by one. there was some delegation ultimately. certainly in the early phase i saw pretty much every target that was going to be attacked. now, i didn't always know whether we were going to do the actual attack. >> in the event -- and this is speculative. in the event of some disastrous, you know, mistargeting there would be in the british system an audit trail from authority,
legal and political through military if necessary by delegation to the actual event. we couldn't control the united states system. was that a concern? >> i mean, that was always going to be a concern. and there were some suggestions -- i know in the course of the campaign i think the missile went to stray and bombed a market and there are always those kinds of risks. the advice that i received in my job was to minimize those risks as much as possible. although no doubt saddam hussein made that as difficult as he possibly could by for example, colocating civilian facilities alongside military ones. >> thank you. you mentioned delegation. and in the course of the actual invasion, you delegated to the air marshal, our commander on the ground, a degree of delegation or authority for targeting decisions. inevitable in terms of of a live
campaign? >> yes. and inevitable as well in terms of the kind of technology that i was describing where it is possible to have planes in the sky who are then subsequently given targets. so i think the practicality of modern technology means that is a requirement, yes. >> reminding ourselves this is essentially a lessons learned inquiry, was it after the invasion phase a lessons learned approach to the actual targeting of the set of issues? how much collateral damage in hindsight is a review process did that go on? >> i think actually the lessons learned were -- and i learned lessons because i think i approached some of the targets initially pretty cautiously if i was told that there was a civilian facility alongside a military arm, we had quite a debate. saddam hussein had some -- at
least 50 palaces located around the country. that he would move from one to the other. and we had quite a debate about if we hit one of these targets, what about the people who worked there? were they necessarily part of the regime? so i think initially i was fairly cautious. one of the things that i learned in the course of the air campaign was that modern weapons were increasingly accurate. that it was possible on occasions to hit parts of buildings without causing damage to the other part of the damage. i think as it went on, the lessons we learned were about how much more accurate modern weapons are than their predecessors. >> a call that i visited from the chinese embassy in belgrade was targeted for quite a different building.
>> again, i don't want to -- that missile or bomb, i don't recall which it was, i wasn't involved, it went to where it was directed. >> the point to be made is that the intelligence and factual information becomes at least as part as the technology? >> that's absolutely right. and i think the advantage we had in relation to iraq compared, for example, to the operations we conducted in afghanistan was that iraq was probably one of the most photographed countries in the world. so the long history of operations in and around iraq meant that we had a huge amount of information about what it was that we were targeting. in stark contrast i accepted to what was a very limited air campaign in afghanistan because we simply did not have the same kind of information. >> thank you very much. we'll turn the questioning now.
>> i want to move on phase four military planning. and what i'd like to hear is what was the time scale did you plan for the involvement with troops on the ground? >> i'm sorry, i missed the last part? >> as a time scale that you planned for the u.k.'s involvement of the troops on the ground in terms of what was the planning? >> the initial assumption was that once they had deployed, they could remain there until roughly the end of the summer. it was a around six months. so the full divisional capability ought to have been capable of remaining in place until -- i think -- i've got the phrase the late summer in my head. i know that's rather imprecise. but i think you can assume around six months from initial deployment. >> and on what basis was that assumption based?
>> on the basis of the strategic events review assumptions about the length of time that we could maintain a large scale deployment. >> okay. and did you have any concerns about the phase four planning which you had seen from or heard from washington at the time? >> well, i think as i mentioned already, we were concerned that the planning for the aftermath was not as detailed and as comprehensive as we would have liked. and indeed in a visit to the pentagon in sometime in february, i think relatively early in february, i took with me a list of things that we hoped that the united states would take account of. >> and what were they? >> they were a wide range of things. the question of security.
the question of how we would deal with the immediate aftermath -- above all else at the time we were very anxious about the extent to which the iraqi people had been dependent on the oil for food program. i have a recollection being told more than once that 60% of the iraqi people depended for their food on the united nations. and there was a very clear anxiety that the moment we went in, the u.n. operation would stop. and i know we spent a lot of time preparing for the prospect of a humanitarian catastrophe. so that meant one of the reasons why we were keen to open the port and we got a shipment of grain and why we built a pipeline carrying water from kuwait towards basra -- i remember kuwaiti defense
minister commenting ironically one of the driest countries of the world was supplying water to a nearby country that had rivers. so he couldn't quite understand why the water wasn't coming in the other direction. but these were all about making sure that we did not face this kind of humanitarian disaster as a direct consequence of going in to iraq. >> but you said that you went to the states with a list. and what sort of response did you get from them because obviously you expressed your concerns. you were planning something. what sort of response did you get from the united states? >> at the time a very positive one. i think, you know, the view was that since the pentagon was given responsibility in the united states for dealing with this phase, they welcomed the suggestion that is we were making. but, you know, i accept that not all of those items on my list were followed up and followed up in the time scale that we expected.
i mean, one of the issues was -- and it was an issue that went on for some time was the requirement for a further u.n. security council resolution to give legal -- to give a further legal basis for our presence there. we were very focused upon that. >> this was the resolution -- >> i'm sorry? >> this was the resolution 1483? >> yeah, i think -- forgive me. i don't remember the number. certainly, the legal problem otherwise was that we were essentially covered by the geneva conventions. and that limited both what we could do. but equally -- and the key considerations as far as i was concerned, it limited the ability of a number of other countries to come in and help. they required a further legal justification for their presence in southern iraq in order to be able to deploy their people, soldiers and others, to be able to assist assist in the aftermath. i mean, even in february, my letter said we need a u.n.
mandate to legitimatize international rule to sort out sanctions. so we were very focused on that. >> so but what were your expectations about the level of likely u.n. involvement in post-conflict? i mean, focusing on the resolutions is one thing. what were your expectation isn't it so >> our expectations were that although there might be an initial disruption caused by the invasion in the sense that the u.n. might then not assist in the delivery of food, that quite quickly we would have expected to get a security council resolution and that would then allow the u.n. in a sense pretty seamlessly to carry on. and, of course, until the attack on the u.n. building, that seemed to be happening. it was the attack on the united nations that stopped all of that. up until then, that seemed to be -- seemed to be a reasonable assumption.
>> but our understanding is the u.s. wasn't so keen on the u.n. involvement. >> they weren't. that's right. >> were you anticipating any conditions from the u.s. or u.n. because, you know, we do know that president bush used the word "vital" after some pleasure. did you anticipate any restrictions from the u.s. on the u.n. involvement? >> you're right. that there was some significant hesitation on the part of the pentagon and other parts of the system. but again, perhaps it was one of the things to sir roderic's previous question. the prime minister did talk about the importance of this particular course of action. and eventually there was such a resolution. from my point of view, i was -- i was anxious that we should get a resolution because i knew how
many european countries in particular could not legally under their system send troops without that justification. so we were for all the reasons we discussed, we were looking in the aftermath to be able to draw down our forces in iraq. we could not do that without other countries coming in. if they could not come in without a further u.n. security council resolution, we had a problem. so the further resolution was important in practice as well as legally if i can put it that way. >> i mean, general cross was appointed, i think, sometime in february to be the u.k.'s post-conflict representative in the pentagon. what instructions, if any, did you give him? >> well, i know that i saw him in the course of that meeting. i think he was actually present at the meeting with donald rumsfeld where we discussed these issues. so he was involved in that. but i think it's important when you say what instructions i gave
him, i mean, he was -- he was our representative ultimately. although i think in that stage i think it was the office of post-conflict of some kind. >> but he must have been sent there for some reason. >> well, he was sent there to help with the process. he was a man i knew pretty well who, you know, was a brilliant -- absolutely brilliant man. and he ran part of the logistics operation. but in terms of -- but his job was to be part of it. ...
>> i mean, the other point about orha, and i accept that there was a mismatch, in our system the lead on civilian reconstruction and development would always be with a foreign office and the department for international development, and that's why to some extent there was a mismatch between what was happening in baghdad and what was happening in the south in the sense that orha's natural counterpart in our system whereas they were being run out of the pentagon. so in a sense general cross'
responses would be as much aimed at the foreign office as they were at the minister of defense. he wasn't -- his line of communication wasn't directly through the mod is really what i'm saying. he was appointed on behalf of the government to do a job inside the office of reconstruction. >> it's fair to -- [inaudible] >> from tim cross' evidence to this committee, he was really dismayed and astonished by what he found when he went. he said, is that all there is? >> yeah. and that message came back very clearly, hence the paper, hence the meeting, hence the determination to try and improve that. >> okay. >> i want to move on to the arrangements and communication within the u.k. government, but before that can i just ask a question about your expectations about what advice or briefing you were receiving on what u.k. forces might find in the south
when they got there? >> well, i've mentioned already i think our overriding consideration initially was food, water. quite quickly the question of power, electricity supplies, security in the south at any rate was a slightly later concern. and i don't mean to minimize that, but the initial situation on the ground was pretty good. i went to iraq in april after the invasion, and i walked around with british soldiers, i walked along the side of the shatt-al-arab waterway, i talked to people. there were children following the soldiers around. they weren't following me, but they were fascinated by british soldiers. soldiers were not wearing
helmets, they were wearing berets. it was, you know, a very relaxed environment initially. that changed. but in the immediate aftermath of the invasion, as i say, i, i went to different parts of basra, met people, talked to local population. it was a very, there was a very positive feeling initially. >> okay. i want to pick up the point you made earlier about tim cross was there as kind of a representative of the government. but where was the lead for the aftermath planning within the u.k. government? >> well, as i say, traditionally it would have been with the foreign office, with dfid, and i think sir john asked me at the
outright about the differences between the u.s. system and our system. one of the key differences i learned at the time was that the u.s. departmental arrangements were much more self-contained, they were much more the classic silos. there was not the kind of exchanges that occur routinely between different departments in the british government. they did not appear, to me, lower down at any rate to have the kind of cabinet committee structure that we are used to where typically ministers from different departments and civil servants from different departments would meet together. so and that was a practical problem because, you know, i knew i think probably from jack straw that there was real frustration in the state department who had much of this expertise that they were not given much access to that. and as far as the u.k. was concerned, it may well be and i
saw general cross' evidence that we lacked a single focal point of someone willing to do that. now, the consequence for the minister of defense and i can't speak on behalf of other departments, but we became very heavily involved in reconstruction, frankly, to an extent that eventually i judged was not appropriate. because we were expecting that soldiers would be replaced doing some of these basic administrative jobs by civilians. and, indeed, we had been promised by dfid that that would happen. and i got to the point where i think i actually wrote letters saying we cannot allow reservists because by then we had reservists in. and one of the things that was happening was with we had reservists carrying out their civilian role in basra and in southern iraq. so we had, i remember there was
someone from the city who was trying to develop a new currency. there was a teacher who was trying to reorganize the ministry of education in the south. you know, i did get quite frustrated that these people who were there for military reasons and had volunteered to serve as reservists for military reasons were actually being asked to carry out their essentially civilian role. i mean, in truth they probably quite enjoyed it, but that was not why they were there, and i was increasingly frustrated at the failure of the government departments to supply the people who were supposed to come and take over those responsibilities. >> but you quite rightly say that the united states, donald rumsfeld had the overall responsibility for the u.s. operation, and you were expressing frustrations. but in our system, i mean, there was no ministerial cabinet committee before the con can flick. i mean, would that help if it
had a cabinet committee which looked at both the invasion and the aftermath? >> there was one set up pretty quickly afterwards. i can't recall when it was established, but i know the prime minister was pretty quickly on to the points that general cross was making, and we had regular meetings of a cabinet committee that drew in the different departments chaired by jack straw mostly, i think occasionally by me, i suppose initially by clare rater. >> there doesn't appear to be the a single person in the cabinet responsible for coordinating our approach to the aftermath. >> well, and i've seen that, and, i mean, i think that's probably a fair observation. i'm not retreating mr. that. all -- from that. all i'm saying is that i was expecting for all the reasons we
discussed that forces would take responsibility for the south. they were good at that transition from more fighting to peace keeping that we put in place quite a number of projects. eventually, we got some money from dfid. they couldn't provide enough people. i think we called them quick impact projects where essentially british soldiers -- who were very frustrated by this, very concerned that we weren't in a sense is doing the job of winning hearts and minds, that there were a lot of things going wrong with the infrastructure in the south -- and they wanted to do something. they wanted to help, so they built bring -- bridges, they were constantly trying to insure that the electricity supply was being delivered. so quite a lot of that in the first place was being done by british troops. my concern was it was going on rather longer than i had
anticipated it should do, and i was expecting there to be more help from other departments. now, you'll have to ask other colleagues what the difficulties were -- >> but the point is, i mean, you yourself expressed frustration, but how would you characterize the relationship between m.o.d. and dfid? what was the relationship between the two departments? >> i mean, i recall that there were certainly letters between jack straw and myself offering to work together, making sure we thought some of these issues through. she had a particular reservation, she didn't believe that soldiers should deliver humanitarian assistance, for example. i think she set that out in a letter or a meeting which i think, frankly, we found a bit puzzling. but nevertheless, i worked very closely with her. she was a very, very committed to insuring that there was no
humanitarian the catastrophe in iraq, and that's why i recall her emphasis on the 60% figure because that was a figure i got from her. so she was really very, very focused on insuring that the iraqi people were helped and supported in that early period. >> but exchanging letters, working cooperatively at this level is fine, but we heard from lord boyce that dfid were particularly uncooperative and that he expressed his concerns to you. what steps did you take to rectify the situation? >> well, we're going back over what i just said. what i did then was to write very clearly and to discuss specifically why it was the that we were not getting the people, the civilians that we had been promised by a certain date to come in and help deliver the, the administration of southern iraq. because that was the next stage
that had to be developed. because in a sense it had collapsed with the, with the ending of the regime. many of the people who i suspect had disappeared because much of that administration would have been in the hands of sunni technocrats and probably wasn't a comfortable place for them to be at the time. >> were you aware that your department was reluctant to involve dfid because of concerns about security clearance? >> [inaudible] >> were you aware your department was reluctant to allow dfid in detailed plans because of concerns about security clearance? >> no. no. in fact -- >> you were not aware of that? >> i wrote to clare, let me have a look. yeah. i wrote to her on the 16th of january sort of everyone siding that there was -- emphasizing
that there was an invitation to dfid and, i quote, to be represented at the weekly iraq stock take meetings. so essentially we were saying dfid should come to what were essentially at that stage military planning meetings in order to get the perspective of dfid on the aftermath planning. and, indeed, the letter goes on to say that we would like to attend any equivalent meetings held in your department. so what we were doing in that correspondence was making sure that both departments were operating together in the planning for the aftermath. >> you would agree that the aftermath planning particularly at the government level wasn't as well coordinated as it could have been? >> in the event of the problems that we had to deal with, i would agree with you. but the issue is did we anticipate the kinds of problems that we ultimately faced?
and if there's any criticism, we didn't sufficiently anticipate the difficulties eventually of security. but that was something that developed. i think actually in the first place we probably did anticipate the kinds of problems of the humanitarian kind, of electricity. what i think we didn't get right was the extent of those difficulties. electricity's a good example in the sense that the electricity supply presumably to southern iraq under saddam hussein had always been intermittent and always been poor. when we took over, they expected everything to suddenly get better, and it didn't. because we were dealing with a power station that at the time had been patched and repaired and kept going and we did some of that as well. we had people doing that. but the local population quite quickly, perhaps understandably, blamed us for the problems that
they had suffered for a long time under saddam. and i'm not, it's not unreasonable. i can see why. we thought that we were there to help, and we weren't making their lives any better as quickly as they expected. >> accept it, but i think you did say earlier that tim cross was a representative of government, so he's not just coming to you then going to the fco then going to the cabinet office. you know, there was nobody change -- taking charge of that. it wasn't my problem. [inaudible] >> no. >> actually saying these are the issues, the lack of planning, we need to take charge of this. >> yes, although, again, i keep making the point that by then tim cross is in baghdad. he's dealing with, you know, an american system that i'm not avoiding my responsibility for it, but essentially my focus on behalf of the m.o.d. was in the south. we had a huge job in the south to do many of the things that
orha was supposed to be doing in and around pag dad. the security situation in baghdad deteriorated much more quickly and dramatically. so ultimately the problems were security problems. >> i've got one question which arises out of something interesting you mentioned earlier in the context of targeting. iraq was probably the most photographed country in the world in terms of overhead imagery. >> exactly. >> tim cross when he gets to baghdad, which you just mentioned, is astonished, he told us, by the shattered state of the infrastructure. not by reason of the coalition war damage, just absolutely shattered infrastructure. and, again, we've heard other evidence as you've just opinion saying about the condition of basic infrastructure in the south, patches and mends and things tied up with shoe laces. photographic imagery doesn't disclose that kind of quality condition can of an infrastructure system, is that right? >> well, i think it's -- the point you're making i think i
agree with which is that we did not anticipate the extent of those kinds of practical difficulties that we were going to face. >> yeah. that's where i was heading and wondering it isn't just imagery, all sorts of on-the-ground intelligence, but that picture of what we would find turned out to be a portrait in the youthful state and not what we actually encountered. there was a mismatch, a disconnect. >> the only thing i'd say is i think we were always well aware that the shias did particularly badly in the distribution of whatever finance the regime had. you could always assume that the south would do a lot worse, so the levels of poverty and malnutrition and so on in the south were always much higher amongst the shia than they were in the center of the country.
>> [inaudible] >> right. we're going to come up to a lunch break fairly soon, but i think we just need to cover a few more questions before we get there, so i'll turn to sir roderic. >> just like to make sure that we're clear about what it was that we did anticipate and what we didn't anticipate. when did we actually realize that we were going to be in charge in the south in the postconflict phase? >> from when we decided, well, even before we decided that we would do the third option. the third option carried with it the recognition that we would be responsible for the south. that was part of the, that was part of the plan. >> the southern box of four provinces, that was clear? >> yeah. >> so that's autumn of 2003. >> i mean, if you like, in terms
of the planning process that was part of the assumption running through all of the preparations. but the decision, yes, towards the end of october. >> and did we realize at that stage that we were going to be the occupying power for the south and, indeed, the co-occupying power for the whole of iraq? was that the assumption then? >> i think that was accepted, certainly, that was the reason why we were so keen to see a further u.n. security council resolution because the legal responsibilities and constraints upon occupying power and general international law were, were more restrictive than we would expect to enjoy under a further u.n. security council resolution. >> but if we're going back into this sort of late 2002, early 2003 period, at that stage our policy was geared to the assumption that we'd get a second resolution before the
conflict happened. >> well, or soon after. sorry, you're talking about -- sorry. i mean -- >> i'm talking about the failed -- >> sorry. >> i was talking 2002, early '3. >> sorry. there were two debates about a second resolution in the sense there was a second resolution, if you like an operative resolution -- >> at this moment -- >> and a debate about a second resolution about the aftermath. now, the reason i'm making that point is that we were debating that or at least it was in my paper going to the pentagon by the middle of february. so there were two sorts of second resolution -- >> yes. >> -- being discussed. >> okay. so there's a series of resolutions. but if we talk about the resolution that we failed to get in march of 2003, our policy had been based ever since 1441 had been adopted on the assumption that we would get that resolution. but that resolution would provide u.n. authority for the action, and that the united
nations could come in straight away after the campaign and take charge of the country. so we were not assuming at this stage that we were going to be the occupying power. in this planning cycle. >> well, unless or until we got that. but i don't think i'm disagreeing with you in the sense that part of what i was talking about in the middle of february was a requirement to insure that we did not, we were not the occupying power for too long the. whatever the gap was between going in and assuming those responsibilities. we wanted to keep that as short as possible. >> and you say we assumed we were going to take charge of this southern region from the stage that we decided to put in the land contribution, but it was only in february that we really started seriously to focus on the aftermath.
you made the trip to washington with tim cross. it was only -- >> i think he was already there. >> but he was with you at the meetings, yes. and it was only in mid february that the foreign office set up the iraq planning unit to actually coordinate planning on the aftermath. so why were we so late in focusing on this question if it had been apparent for so long? >> well, i think the reasons that i've already tried to set out, that british forces, i think, are pretty good at this kind of transition. so in the first place the assumption would always have been that we would transit very quickly from war fighting to peace keeping and to normally is called often nation building. and, indeed, that was happening from the moment that, you know, the port at umm qasr was taken
specifically to make sure that we had access for shipping to bring in food supplies. so from the moment that was taken there was a railhead, that was absolutely -- i don't think it was particularly a military significant target. it was important for our, for our thinking about the aftermath to make sure that we had access for deep water ships. i think some work was done on clearing the harbor very, very quickly in order to get a ship in, and i think my recollection was we got in really quite quickly with supplies. >> obviously, our military did extremely well in what they did with coping with the transition, and as you said, this is something they're very good at. we heard from general brims who commanded the first troops to cross the border. the moment you take one yard of territory, you then become responsible for postconflict. >> that's right. >> so straight away they'll into
having to administer areas of iraq. as you said, you didn't want them to be doing that for too long -- >> but i did want them to be doing it. the answer to your question is we recognized they would be engaged in this task and, indeed, you're right. i mean, the moment they arrived in umm qasr there would have been soldiers already engaged in the second, you know, the further phase of operations while some were still fighting. and that process was an it rahtive process that went on until we'd taken those four provinces and controlled them. >> but the picture that's certainly been built up by a succession of military witnesses and i don't think contradicted by anything you've said today is that effectively we had to make this up as we went along, that our military found themselves in charge of the civil administration of the southeast of iraq for which they'd not
been prepared which they did, obviously, extremely well in this early fades. no criticism of them. but it wasn't what they were there for, it hadn't been planned for, the british government collectively really hadn't anticipated that this was going to happen, and we had nothing planned to step in to the place in advance. >> well, i disagrees in the -- disagree in the sense that we had had something planned. the reason for me writing letters saying where are these people was to the best of my recollection there was a date i'd been given an assurance there would be people available. those dates were passed, those people were not in iraq doing the job i was told they would be doing. so there was planning. for whatever reason we did not, we did not satisfy those targets, those ambitions. we did not have the kinds of people, civil minneapolis, on the ground doing the jobs that were being carried out by soldiers, by reservists by and
large. >> so such planning is the was didn't produce the results. >> didn't deliver, no. >> could that be because the planning started very late? >> i think that's probably fair. i don't exactly 2340e what the specific problems were. i do know from other conflicts, particular problem, for example, in kosovo we had similar difficulties in afghanistan. it is quite hard to find the right people with the right skills to go into what very recently has been a war zone. so it may be that we did not provide sufficient timelines for identifying those people and getting them into, into southern iraq. >> that very much corresponds with what others have said to us. now, you've reflected the fact that you were concerned for a long time about the aftermath, other ministers likewise. why at cabinet level did we not
take more vigorous action to insure that the aftermath planning was done properly, as you say it's very complicated, and in sufficient time? >> to the best of my recollection, we did. i think that a lot of work went into -- i'm sorry to repeat myself, but into the humanitarian part, into looking at how we dealt with the infrastructure. i think there was a lot of thought. we had people, for example, that we were going to deploy very quickly who were experts in, in oil pumping and delivery because part of that was concern that the iraqi regime might sabotage the oil wells as they had in the first gulf war. we also knew that it was going to be vitally important to iraq's future that it was able
to pump oil and earn money as quickly as possible. so we actually had quite a number of experts in that area who were deployed and were available to do those sorts of things. i think, i think when things went badly wrong once the security situation started to deteriorate, and we weren't able to get -- and it may well be this was the problem in dfid -- we weren't able to get people to two go there because of their increasing worries about security can. >> we probably need to take pause at this point and resume after lunch because i think we're just at the point where planning turns into execution through the invasion happening and the military action being as sir jeremy greenstock put it,
catastrophically successful. but i think the chairman would like us to resume that after lunch. >> yes, he would. i think sir lawrence would like to ask a very short question and then we'll break. >> try to give a short answer. [laughter] >> with focus on basra in the south and this discussion and our responsibilities, the security in iraq was always going to depend much more on what was happening in baghdad. >> i think that's absolutely right. >> and that was going to be much more of an american responsibility. >> yeah. we had some people there, but a very small number of highly specialist people, shall i say. >> and we've had lots of evidence from the news world about the concerns about how well the americans were preparing for this and how seriously they took it. what's interesting, was there ever a point where you thought or you discussed with colleagues the possibility that the problems that